Madam President, before we commence I do have an application to make and the application is that we revert to the normal sitting hours. The application is made on behalf of all Defence counsel, the defendant and, relying on information passed to me by Mr Munyard, also on behalf of the shorthand writers and the translators.
The history of the change to the sitting hours can be outlined briefly in this way: Several months ago I had a discussion with the Registrar and Mr Townsend in the context of the proposed move from the ICC to the STL and how best to make use of the facilities and possibilities there. And it was in that context that I suggested that we might revisit the sitting hours.
My understanding was that that suggestion would be mooted with all interested parties, but clearly that suggestion was not discussed with certain important stakeholders such as the shorthand writers, the interpreters, and other court staff and consequently it came as something of a surprise to me when we were effectively presented with a fait accompli last week and put in a way which suggested that it was all my responsibility.
But in our submission, it is now clear that these new sitting hours just cannot work. They will, in our submission, have a negative impact on the fair discharge of justice in this case.
I note in particular that during the course of the proceedings yesterday afternoon, which I was observing by way of the LiveNote, that this witness was clearly fatigued in the afternoon and was unable to hold her head up, a matter remarked about by Mr Anyah during the course of his questioning of the witness. And it's understandable that the witness will be tired, because one has to bear in mind that the witness has to be up at or about 6 a.m. in the morning at the safe house in order to leave from there at 7.30 to be here for 8.15. That is an extremely long day.
And my particular concern is this: One appreciates that the behaviour of a witness in the witness box whilst testifying is not only to be observed in terms of what the witness says, but also has to be observed in terms of the witness's demeanour and so on and clearly there is a real risk of the behaviour of the witness being misunderstood where tiredness might give rise to the suggestion or interpretation that the witness is being mendacious. So that is a particular concern, but it is also having an effect on the defendant. He has little time to collect his thoughts in the morning before being transported to Court and we therefore have little time to consult with him before the 9 o'clock start before the proceedings commence. And in proceedings of this complexity, ongoing consultation with the defendant is a very real necessity. Consequently, we are unable as a result if this regime were to continue to take proper instructions from the defendant.
Counsel in the case have also informed me that they found yesterday's sitting very enervating, given its length. And I'm also told that the shorthand writers and the interpreters for whom accuracy and precision is paramount, requiring clear minds and the ability consequently to concentrate on the proceedings, and in those circumstances where their ability to provide us with accurate recall of the proceedings might be affected by fatigue in our submission the interests of justice are not served.
So I can see that it was a mistake to make that suggestion, but I further suggest that there should have been a period of consultation before the change was implemented. We submit this will have an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings and, consequently, we should revert to the normal sitting hours. That is my application.